More Americans approve of Trump since coronavirus hit the United States than before, according to polling data available on FiveThirtyEight. Currently, Trump’s standing in the national polls is over 45%, an increase from his approval rating in January, before COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S.
In mid-January just before the coronavirus slammed the U.S., Trump’s approval rating stood at 42.3%.
What’s more, Trump’s disapproval rating has been on the decline.
When coronavirus first appeared in the country, Trump’s disapproval rating was 53%. Currently, it stands at roughly 50%.
The pop in approval represents a turnaround for Trump, whose popularity has been on the decline since he was elected to office. When he first became president in January 2017, his approval rating numbers were over 45%.
But very quickly, those numbers sank.
The figures might also help Trump in November as the electorate focuses their attention on the coronavirus pandemic.
Latest polling figures show that the lead former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has over Trump is starting to narrow.
Cabot Phillips, editor-in-chief of Campus Reform, a conservative news website focused on higher education, said the pandemic will likely prove politically beneficial to Trump.
“Initially when this happened, when the news started to focus solely on COVID-19, I talked to some Democrat strategists and they said this actually could be a godsend for the Democrat party – because Joe Biden on the campaign trail is prone to gaffes,” he said.
“And they said, maybe this is good. He can take a little bit of a backseat, the news won’t be focused on him and on the 2020 race, and he can kind of cruise to the nomination,” said Phillips.
Looking ahead to November
According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll of registered voters, 49% say they would vote for Joe Biden, compared to 47% for Trump. This +2 advantage is a far narrower lead than the results of a February poll, also from ABC News and the Washington Post.
In that February poll, Joe Biden held a lead of 7 points over the incumbent — 52% to 45%.
“But now,” Phillips said, “I think that all the air has been sucked up out of the cycle and President Trump is dominating a lot of the news cycle. And it’s actually playing fairly well for him, politically speaking. A lot of those same people in the Democrat party are saying, well, wait a second. Now, our guy, our nominee is kind of disappearing, and people are starting to forget about him entirely, which isn’t good.”
“So I think we’re going to see a more visible Joe Biden here in the next few weeks,” Phillips said.
Phillips said it will be difficult for Biden to politicize coronavirus, as the general public isn’t “craving political infighting right now.”
“He’s in a tough spot where he’s trying not to completely disappear but still trying to find a way to claw into the news cycle, which is difficult without some of that more bombastic rhetoric,” he said.
It’s “very possible” the COVID-19 outbreak could end up giving Trump a victory during the general election in November, said Phillips: “Americans like rallying around a leader – whether it was President Bush on 9/11, even Jimmy Carter who was relatively unpopular up until the Iran hostage crisis, where his approval rating spiked.”
And with the constant airtime the president is getting with the press, Phillips said Trump is starting to appeal to those who previously didn’t like him.
“He seems more reasonable,” said Phillips. “He seems more in command here than I was expecting. And I think some people have been pleasantly surprised. And that’s why I think you’ve seen some people in the middle there start to go towards him.”
Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.
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